C. D. Broad

The Philosophical Implications of Foreknowledge

When the Secretary asked me to introduce a philosophical discussion on a subject connected with psychical research, I felt that I had a plain duty to consent, although I would much rather have declined. As readers of my books are aware, it has always seemed to me most strange and most deplorable that the vast majority of philosophers and psychologists should utterly ignore the strong prima facie case that exists for the occurrence of many supernormal phenomena which, if genuine, must profoundly affect our theories of the human mind, its cognitive powers, and its relation to the human body. I could say a good deal, which might be interesting but would certainly be painful, about some of the psychological causes of this attitude; but I prefer to welcome the very evident signs of a change in it, and to congratulate the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association on their courage in treating with the contempt that it deserves the accusation of "having gone spooky" which they will certainly incur in some circles.

I do not myself think that the evidence for alleged supernormal physical phenomena is good enough to make them at present worth the serious attention of philosophers. I have no doubt that at least 99 percent of them either never happened as reported or are capable of a normal explanation, which, in a great many cases, is simply that of deliberate

Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 16 ( 1937), pp. 177-209, by courtesy of the Editor of the Aristotelian Society. Copyright 1937 the Aristotelian Society.


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